It has been many weeks since I ran my very first 26.2 in Toledo, Ohio. I knew going into the last weeks of the training cycle that after it was done, I was going to take some much deserved time off and put all things running off my many pedestals of priorities for a bit. My intention was not to stop running all together but to completely rid myself of any pressure or guilt in not being able to work it in to our already busy summer schedule. Being the loudest cheerleader at my son’s baseball games, throwing the ball with Rory, drinks on the patio with my husband and dance parties with my daughter all come before scrambling to squeeze miles in to any ounce of free time available. I have indulged in yummy summer libations without regret and have practically lived off chips and salsa the past month and a half. This week marks the last week of my quasi time off and I am feeling eager and excited to jump headfirst into training next week.
Before I dive into another round of lofty goals, I need to get my thoughts down on what transpired in Toledo, the highs and lows and how I will use the experience in April (and really all 18 weeks of training) to propel myself forward and show up in October stronger than ever. So without further ado, here’s the rundown…
- Stay away from sick people leading up to your race!!! Arm yourself with Purel, masks, multiple hazmat suits, whatever it takes to keep the germies away so you can be 100% come race day. My daughter unfortunately had caught the flu the week leading up to my marathon. Needless to say, when I woke up Saturday morning (the marathon was Sunday) with a scratchy throat and cough I prayed vehemently for mercy and that said symptoms were a mere result of nerves.
- Don’t run a marathon with a fever! Spoiler alert, the symptoms were not a result of nerves and I quickly came to that realization Saturday night when I quivered with chills and failed to get any semblance of rest. When I woke up Sunday morning, I quickly realized I was in a whole heap of trouble. My head was throbbing and I knew that I most likely had a low grade fever. I waffled back and forth on what exactly to do. I had dedicated 4 long, tough months to this day. The thought of throwing in the towel before I even toed the start line quickly amplified the nausea I was already enduring. In game time decision fashion, I made an agreement with my husband who was visibly concerned. We would run to Kroger and pick up a thermometer. If my temperature was over 100, I was not running. If it was under, I was in this thing. It read 99.7. Alright then, game on. I did not take any medicine as I wanted to be sure that if things got bad, there was no disguising it. Yes, I woke up marathon morning with the flu. Yes, I made an extremely unsafe decision by moving forward with running. Yes, I probably made myself and my recoveries significantly more difficult by this err in judgement. Yes, I saw a Dr. shortly after to check and make sure all was ok. Yes, I have learned my lesson.
- Pee before the race!! Rookie mistake but in all the disarray with my uncertainty of running, I forgot to pee one last time before we headed to the start. The port a potty lines were ridiculously long so I decided to chance it. I totally peed myself the last 5 miles and have no shame in admitting it.
- Stay in each mile, don’t get ahead of yourself. The first half was fine. I definitely felt sick and not myself but it was nothing compared to the amount of hate I had for life at mile 16. Thankfully my stomach was solid and I was able to stay on track with my fueling (gel every 40 min) and consciously upped the water intake. I have never had thoughts of quitting during a race. I rarely have thoughts of quitting during training runs. At mile 16, I was scouring the ground for an errant tree root to take me out. Mile 16 me had absolutely no clue how she would get to Mile 24. Mile 16 me focused on Mile 16 and nothing more. Just get done with this mile, don’t worry about what comes next, just keep moving. This saved me.
- Save your music! When I run alone or when I race, I listen to music. I’m a huge music freak and there is nothing like a pounding beat and super fast tempo to really get the legs moving. I didn’t listen to any music the first half of the race. I ran with my 2 best running buddies and tried my hardest to soak up as much as I could. The treat of listening to my favorite running jams on the last half of the course was a great thing to look forward to.
- Respect the distance! While I certainly am a firm believer that I can do “hard things”. This experience completely redefined the definition of “hard thing”. Those 26.2 miles tear you down and build you back up piece by piece. We know going into a marathon, especially our first marathon that it’s going to be tough. Tears were shed the moment I laid eyes on that glorious finish line. I was completely humbled by the experience and in complete awe of these amazing men and women who pound the pavement again and again. I can’t tell you how many seasoned marathoners gave the very well intentioned adage of “not having a time goal” and of “only wanting to finish”. This goes against every ounce of my goal chasing, stubborn, ruthlessly competitive, type A little brain. While I nodded knowingly and appreciatively with a smile, I secretly scoffed at such a ridiculous foreign concept. Guess what? They were right. The journey and crusade, the battle you exhaustingly endure…it changes you. The glory is in the transformation.
- Negative self talk is toxic! Mile 16 was when things got ugly for me. My head was admittedly not in a great place and once the thoughts of quitting and pulling out were allowed in, the flood gates opened. Next time, I will be sure to have a positive mantra I can focus on when things get real.
- #Blessed The amount of love and support I felt that weekend was just beyond. Our husbands and dear friends drove, walked, and rode around like mad so they could scream and shout, throw water at us, take 5,423 pictures, take our gloves, or receive quick little sweaty hugs. I came home to a gigantic homemade banner from the kids proudly on display in my parent’s front yard. They all had a blast getting the live updates on grandma’s phone and cheering me on virtually. Pizza and beer was aflowing and my amazing mother let me shower and nap while she entertained my daughter for a few hours (my son had baseball practice as soon as we returned from Toledo so husband couldn’t help). I am so grateful for my tribe and everything they do for me.
- One team! I don’t care what anyone says, running IS a team sport. One of the very reasons I became interested in pursuing running was being witness to the unbelievable amount of camaraderie while spectating at my little sister’s high school cross country meets. These girls were the ultimate #squadgoals and the intensity of which they came together and lifted each other up was beyond moving. I am blessed upon blessed upon blessed to have an amazing team of fierce mamas who continue to teach and inspire me every day. Runners lift each other up, they motivate, they push, they encourage, they dare, they fail, they unite, they ENDURE.
Glass City Marathon, 4/26/16 Toledo, OH
Official Time: 4:01:10